The Origins of “Xmas” And Why It Isn’t An Attack On Christmas

chirhojpgI wrote a few years ago about how I don’t mind the phrase “Happy Holidays,” and even prefer it.

This was in response to a rash of “I’m outraged” posts showing up on my Facebook feed during the Advent and Christmas seasons. I finally had enough of the complaining, without bothering to think about the facts involved.

Well, another battle that many Christians seem happy to fight in the present “Christmas War” is people who use “Xmas” instead of Christmas.

While it is a little early, I know soon I’ll start seeing Facebook posts by Christians getting worked up over the use of “Xmas.”

Clearly, at least according to the Facebook posts and memes, replacing the word “Christ” with the letter “X” is a liberal conspiracy designed to attack Christ (probably led by Hillary Clinton), right?

Why would anybody replace the word “Christ” with an “X” unless they had bad intentions? How dare someone “X out” the name of our Lord? Or at least people using ‘Xmas’ are being lazy, right?

Actually, the opposite is true. Using “X” for Christ isn’t some modern liberal conspiracy. It goes back to an ancient Christian practice of abbreviating the name of Christ as “XR.”

The Greek word for Christ is “Christos,” which in Greek is spelled XRISTOS. The word starts with the Greek letter “Chi.” A very popular early Christian symbol for Jesus (way more popular than the cross from 100-300 AD) was the “Chi-Rho” symbol, which looks like XR.

Xmas likely developed from this symbol. While it may be slightly lazy, it isn’t an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas.

About David Bennett

David Bennett is an author, speaker, and small business owner. He started ChurchYear.Net in 2004, along with his brother Jonathan. The site gets over one million visitors a year, and Bennett's writings have appeared in church bulletins, newspapers, and other media.


  1. […] address this is another post, but people need to relax and not get bent out of shape over a little “X” in a word. […]

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